Experts forecasting a bleak outlook for 2013 - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Experts forecasting a bleak outlook for 2013

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- With the new year just a few days underway, WQOW reached out to local experts in a variety of fields to see what we should expect to see in 2013.

"I think this next year, just close your eyes and hang on tight," says Dr. Fred Kolb, an economics professor at UW-Eau Claire.

He predicts the growing political divide in the U.S. is going to make the economy struggle in 2013.

"This is a solid collision of points of view," Kolb points out.  "The Republicans really feel it's important to hold down the size of government and the Obama administration feels that they have to protect some of the programs."

Kolb has a positive outlook on the stock market.  But other major areas, like changes to our country's health care system, remain a concern. 

"It's just going to be a tremendous number of people who are consuming but not producing; and especially consuming the medical services," says Kolb.  "We've seen this coming.  It's no surprise.  And they've done nothing about it.  They've done nothing about it.  It's a complete F grade."

Farming experts expect food prices will continue to rise in 2013. 

"I think we could see food prices be a little bit higher than the pace of inflation; in particular, meats and animal proteins," explains Director of Dairy Policy Analyst Mark Stephenson.  "We have a shortage of that largely due to high feed costs with the drought this past year and we expect that that's going to carry over for a couple more years."

Drivers are hoping another trend doesn't carry over.

"From the start of the year to the peak has averaged 90 cents for the last eight years," says Gasbuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski.

That would mean we should expect to see prices top the $4 mark at some point in 2013.  However, other experts say because of higher domestic production and lower demand, we could see lower prices this year compared to last.

There's one word most experts use when describing 2013: uncertainty.  So buckle up for what could be a wild ride.

Kolb predicts that the economy could get especially bumpy when our politicians start discussing raising the debt ceiling later this year.  He says that battle should be even more contentious than the fiscal cliff debate, which he says only means more uncertainty for the American public.

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